Jan. 10, 2016, David Bowie. April 21, 2016, Prince. June 3, 2016, Muhammad Ali.

This year, we’ve lost some world-changing legends.

On the surface, Bowie and Prince are simply talented, successful musicians, and Ali a talented, successful athlete.

To those who only see these individuals for their surface value, their deaths raise awareness to why they’re more than just celebrities.

To those who realize these individuals for their impact, their deaths are a reminder of their greatness and a motivation to continue their legacies.

What Bowie, Prince and Ali have in common is their contributions to our world that extend beyond their entertainment value.

Bowie was known for his chart topping hits such as “Space Oddity,” “Fame,” and “Heroes,” among many more, but he was also known for an outrageous level of self-expression that was feared by those before him, and inspired those who followed him.

Bowie deflected expectations for men, experimenting with sexuality, androgyny and fashion. He was himself, or Ziggy Stardust, for everyone to see. Because of this, his art was magnificent. His talent mixed with his individuality inspired people for generations.

When Bowie died on Jan. 10 at age 69, after battling cancer, the world was reminded to be the most beautiful version of themselves.

David-Bowie-resize-1-1024x811

David Bowie (Image Source)

Prince’s wide range of talents created music that blended genres, which can be seen as metaphor for Prince himself.

Prince was a true individual, who understood that his uniqueness could be manipulated with fame.

He fought to be able to be himself, to be sexual, to be androgynous, to release his own music and receive full credit for it, and to represent himself purely.

And Prince was woke, he was an activist in his own right.

While Prince’s music was often sexual and focused on women, it was always for women and not objectifyingwomen.

He also had a band, The Revolution, that he made sure featured members of various races and genders.

Prince understood the oppression of black people in America, and fought against it through spreading awareness and messages of black positivity.

When Prince died on April 21, we were reminded of the battles he fought, the power he earned and the roads he paved. This reminded people not to take their individuality for granted and to continue fighting for personal freedom, regardless of creed or color.

Finally, Muhammad Ali’s 1964 world heavyweight title was much more than a boxing championship win.

The timing couldn’t have been more significant, and while Ali will always be remembered for his phenomenal boxing abilities, he will also be remembered for his fights outside of the ring.

Ali earned more than a title in 1964, he earned a platform. He traveled the country speaking at colleges, spreading words of peace and black power. He was a supporter of the American Civil Rights Movement, he was against the Vietnam War and he was an open Islam.

Having changed his name from Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., Ali left his slave name and practiced his American right of religious freedom, even though it caused controversy.

Muhammad Ali 1966

Muhammad Ali. (Image Source)

Ali stayed true to his anti-war religious and personal beliefs, and when he was to be inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces in 1967, he refused. This resulted in his arrest, suspended boxing license and title removal.

A lot was at stake for Ali. He was “The Greatest” in the sport of boxing, but he didn’t let his boxing career have more importance than his beliefs, and his bravery and dedication spoke volumes.

Ali would eventually be allowed to return to the sport of boxing after three years of suspension, where he would win several more important fights and secure his reputation as one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time.

Years later, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which would lead to the end of his career.

Ali’s death effected the world. With his passing, we are reminded of his activism, we are reminded to stand up for what we believe in, and we are reminded to put these important causes before ourselves.

Though we’ve lost three significant legends, we reflect on why these individuals are such important people. We’re educated on their legacies, we revisit memories, and we witness the effects their lives had on all of us. Because of their deaths, we further understand their impact on our world, and we can be rejuvenate their fight towards what is right in their honor.

R.I.P. David Bowie, Prince and Muhammad Ali.

This article was originally published on The Sami Fisher Blog on June 7, 2016.